Friday, October 16, 2020

Why Read Historical Fiction Set in Sixteenth Century France? Reason #7

Today's reason almost goes without saying...

Reason #7--FRANCE

France is the most popular travel destination in the world, visited by 89 million foreign tourists in 2018 alone. The country's vineyards 



and vibrant cities 

tug at the hearts and pursestrings of enthusiastic travelers and compilers of bucket lists the world over. Paris tops New York on lists of "Most Visited Cities" and flaunts its undisputed title as the "Most Romantic." Its cultural attractions, like the Musée du Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, and Arc de Triomphe, as well as its luxury boutiques, fine restaurants, and outdoor cafés, are a perennial draw. For well-seasoned travelers and armchair dreamers alike, France holds a distinctive and dynamic appeal. 

This fascination with France carries over into literature. A quick search on Amazon turns up 50,000 entries for "France--Fiction and Literature" and 30,000 for "Paris--Fiction and Literature."

Goodreads lists hundreds of books set in France and Paris. Recent bestsellers such as Kristin Hannah's THE NIGHTINGALE, Anthony Doerr's ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE, Paula McClain's THE PARIS WIFE, and Nina George's THE LITTLE PARIS BOOKSHOP witness to the immense popularity of a French setting. During these locked-down, travel-verboten pandemic days, readers are hungry to read about places they cannot explore.

What is it about France that captures the interest and seals the loyalty of its admirers? It might be the country's varied geography and scenic beauty. It might be its rich history, which encompasses the glory of a medieval kingdom, the quest for liberty and equality during the Revolution, and the Resistance's struggles against the evils of Nazism. It could be France's artistic and literary culture, which has contributed countless masterpieces to the world's canon and produced luminaries like Proust and Hugo and Matisse and Monet. It might very well be the joie-de-vivre that animates daily life and compliments the strong vein of scepticism that characterizes the French spirit. Perhaps, in the end, it is nothing more than bread and cheese and pastries. Elements of all these things create the timeless allure that is France--an allure that historical fiction acknowledges and indulges and prolongs.

Did you miss Reasons #1-#6? Read them here: ESCAPE, RELEVANCE, DRAMA, EMOTION, GLITZ, HISTORY.


Marg said...

Sigh...I was supposed to go to Paris this year. Of course it didn't happen...maybe in a couple of years!

Julianne Douglas said...

I'm sorry you have to miss your trip! I would love to return to France, too. Hopefully things will ease up soon, and you'll be able to go sooner rather than later.